Miguel Angelo Laporta Nicolelis, MD, PhD, (São Paulo, March 7, 1961) is a Brazilian physician and scientist, best known for his pioneering work in "reading monkey thought". He and his colleagues implanted electrode arrays into a monkey's brain that were able to detect the monkey's motor intent and thus able to control reaching and grasping movements performed by a robotic arm. This was possible by decoding signals of hundreds of neurons recorded in volitional areas of the cerebral cortex while the monkey played with a hand-held joystick to move a shape in a video game. These signals were sent to the robot arm, which then mimmicked the monkeys moves and thus controlled the game. After a while the monkey realised that thinking about moving the shape was enough and it no longer needed to move the joystick. So it let go of the joystick and controlled the game purely through thought. A system in which brain signals directly control an ņartificial actuator is commonly referred to as brain-machine interface or brain-computer interface.
Nicolelis received an M.D. degree from University of São Paulo Medical School in 1984. He got a Phd in 1988/89 at the Institute of Biomedical Science, University of São Paulo.
Currently, Nicolelis is a Professor of Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering and Psychological and Brain Sciences, and he and Craig Henriquez, a Professor in Biomedical Engineering, serve as Co-Directors of the Center for Neuroengineering, Duke University Medical Center (since 2001).
He is also currently involved with setting up an international neuroscience research centre in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, state of Rio Grande do Norte, the International Institute for Neuroscience of Natal (IINN).
In 2004, he was chosen by the journal Science as one of the 100 most influential scientists of the year. He also appears in the 2004 Scientific American listing of most influential research leaders of the year.
Nicolelis is also known for his passion for the Palmeiras football team, to the point of being photographed using the Palmeiras shirt at the Estádio Palestra Itália (Palmeiras' stadium) to illustrate his interview for 'Superinteressante', a well-known Brazilian magazine (October 2006). His mother, Giselda Laporta Nicolelis, is an important Brazilian writer of children's literature.
- Nicolelis Lab
- CV and awards
- New Scientist 2003
- New Scientist 2004
- International Institute for Neuroscience of Natal (IINN)
Selected Publications on Brain-Machine Interface
- Lebedev, M.A., Carmena, J.M., O’Doherty, J.E., Zacksenhouse, M., Henriquez, C.S., Principe, J.C., Nicolelis, M.A.L. (2005) Cortical ensemble adaptation to represent actuators controlled by a brain machine interface. J. Neurosci. 25: 4681-4693.
- Santucci, D.M., Kralik, J.D., Lebedev , M.A., Nicolelis, M.A.L. (2005) Frontal and parietal cortical ensembles predict single-trial muscle activity during reaching movements. Eur. J. Neurosci., 22: 1529-1540.
- Carmena, J.M., Lebedev, M.A., Crist, R.E., O’Doherty, J.E., Santucci, D.M., Dimitrov, D.F., Patil, P.G., Henriquez, C.S., Nicolelis, M.A.L. (2003) Learning to control a brain-machine interface for reaching and grasping by primates. PLoS Biology, 1: 193-208.
- Nicolelis MA (2003) Brain-machine interfaces to restore motor function and probe neural circuits. Nat Rev Neurosci. 4: 417-422.
- Wessberg J, Stambaugh CR, Kralik JD, Beck PD, Laubach M, Chapin JK, Kim J, Biggs SJ, Srinivasan MA, Nicolelis MA. (2000) Real-time prediction of hand trajectory by ensembles of cortical neurons in primates. Nature 16: 361-365.